The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has confirmed that next week’s planned strike action has been suspended after the Government has agreed to find a “fair and reasonable settlement”. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak will now begin a process of “intensive talks” after previously claiming a proposed pay increase was “unaffordable”.
RCN union members were scheduled to strike for 48-hours from March 1 to March 3 over issues such as pay, working conditions and patient safety. The strikes were to be joined by nurses working at cancer wards, A&E departments and intensive care.
The joint statement from RCN and the Department of Health reads: “The Government and Royal College of Nursing have agreed to enter a process of intensive talks. Both sides are committed to finding a fair and reasonable settlement that recognises the vital role that nurses and nursing play in the National Health Service and the wider economic pressures facing the United Kingdom and the Prime Minister’s priority to halve inflation.
“The talks will focus on pay, terms and conditions, and productivity enhancing reforms. The Health Secretary will meet with the Royal College of Nursing on Wednesday to begin talks. The Royal College of Nursing will pause strike action during these talks.”
It is a major breakthrough after RCN general secretary Pat Cullen appeared on BBC Breakfast last week to confirm that there had been “no communication” between trade union officials and the Government.
Ambulance workers and nurses went on strike together earlier this month to mount further pressure. It is understood that more than 137,000 appointments have been delayed as a result of the walkouts.